Aroldis Chapman has been on the move quite a bit the past few months. Just 31.1 innings and 20 saves after sending Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda and Caleb Cotham to Cincinnati for the fastest throwing pitcher in the land, the New York Yankees turned him into an arguably bigger haul.
It’s safe to say that the Chicago Cubs are all-in trying to end the 108-year championship draught in Chi-town. They sent a bundle of their farm hands, including their top prospect — shortstop Gleyber Torres — one of their top outfield prospects — Billy McKinney — and 22-year old centerfielder Rashad Crawford, as well as swing man Adam Warren. Warren of course was a Yankee just last season and went to Chicago for Starlin Castro. While he isn’t an elite prospect any longer, he should slip right back to his seventh inning role, and the Yankees shouldn't miss a beat at the back of their bullpen with the loss of Chapman… that is, should Andrew Miller survive the trade deadline.
Many Yankees fans were left scratching their heads with the acquisition of Torres. They already have a young and improving Didi Gregorius in the Bronx, as well as their top prospect Jorge Mateo playing in Tampa. Mateo has already been suspended for verbally disagreeing with the handling of his career, couldn’t this spark a further rift?
Not necessarily. Torres is that good. He is currently slashing .275/.359/.433 with nine home runs as he leaves the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League. He’s struck out 87 times (21.3 percent of the time) but does draw a nice amount of walks, getting 42 free passes. He has also swiped 19 bases in 29 attempts, while playing pretty sound defense. He has done all of this at 19 years of age, nearly four years younger than the Carolina League’s median age.
Torres has answered many questions along the way. Many felt that his career high of three home runs prior to 2016 was very underwhelming based on the fact that he has advanced swing mechanics. He has crushed that total with nine this season. Likewise, many felt that he was a bit aggressive at the plate and wanted to see him show the ability to take a walk more. He’s slowly but surely improved his walk rate already by two percent by being more selective and showing more patience at the plate, and again, is doing it younger than any of the advanced pitchers he is facing.
Mateo got off to a fast start, but has cooled off of late. He is currently batting .258/.314/.392 with an increased strikeout rate from last season as well as a lower stolen base percentage as a 21-year old in the Florida State League. He too has found his power stroke, one off his career high of seven, and on pace to beat his career high of 11 triples, while adding in 10 doubles as well. And there was that well publicized two-week suspension for lashing out against Yankees brass.
Here’s the thing. Mateo has played 17 games at second base. Let me rephrase that. Mateo has played the first 17 games of his entire career at second base flawlessly. He hasn’t committed an error in 89 chances, while turning 14 double plays and assisting on 46 outs. His range factor (5.24) is higher than any year he posted at shortstop.
The Atlanta Braves showed when a valuable talent becomes available, you go for it. They moved their top prospect Ozzie Albies to second when the acquired Dansby Swanson and the two are coexisting in Mississippi. If the Yankees start Torres in Tampa, they could be sitting on a very exciting double play combo of the not so distant future.
Billy McKinney — a former first rounder — came to Chicago along with Addison Russell and Dan Straily from Oakland in the blockbuster that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the bay. He had a breakout season of sorts last year slashing .300/.371/.454 with a career high 31 doubles and a very nice 60-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has struggled this season, batting just .252 with one home run, but is still showing fine plate discipline, walking 13.5 percent of the time.
McKinney provides depth in a Yankees system that now has some quality in the outfield on the pipeline. He joins Aaron Judge, Ben Gamel, Dustin Fowler and Blake Rutherford as some names that could certainly one day contribute on the big league level.
If the rumors are true that contract extension talks broke down between the Yankees and Chapman on an extension after this season, then Brian Cashman orchestrated a trade at the very least improves the Yankees hopes of a promising future. All four pieces improve the Yankees whether it is on the field immediately, down the not so distant road, or providing organizational depth.
The prospect of watching Mateo and Torres together is enough to get excited about.